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In re Sullivan

Supreme Court of Arizona

July 1, 1946


In the matter of Henry J. Sullivan, a member of the State Bar, wherein the Board of Governors reported the matter to the Supreme Court for disciplinary action as the court should deem just.

Respondent suspended from practice for two years.

Rouland W. Hill, of Phoenix, for State Bar.

Floyd M. Stahl and P. H. Hayes, both of Phoenix, for respondent.

Stanford, C. J., La Prade, J., and John D. Lyons, Jr., Superior Judge, concur. Morgan, J., being disqualified, the Honorable John D. Lyons, Jr., Judge of the Superior Court of Pima County, was called to sit in his stead.


Stanford, C. J.

Page 615

[64 Ariz. 338] The respondent is a member of the Bar of this state. Pursuant to Article 3, Chapter 32, A.C.A.1939, the local administrative committee, having received complaints concerning his conduct, held a hearing thereon. Respondent was present and participated in person and by counsel, and evidence was duly introduced. Thereafter the administrative committee made findings and recommendations and transmitted them, along with a transcript of the evidence, to the board of governors. The board of governors, after notice to respondent, was duly convened, and respondent, who was again present with counsel, was permitted to make an extended statement in support of his position. The board reviewed the report and transcript of the administrative committee, and, as authorized by Section 32-335, A.C.A.1939, acted thereon by reporting the matter to this court for such disciplinary action as we should deem just. Thereupon respondent was cited to appear and show cause why we should not enter an order disbarring, suspending or reproving him. Upon the hearing pursuant thereto, he requested, and was granted, permission to introduce additional testimony, and the matter was submitted on such testimony and the record below.

The respondent contends that none of the charges against him come within the prohibitions of Sections 32-201, A.C.A.1939. If that were true, proceedings under Article 2, Chapter 32, could not be sustained. [64 Ariz. 339] In re Bailey, 30 Ariz. 407, 248 P. 29. But these proceedings were instituted under Article 3 of that chapter, which unlike the older Article 2, does not restrict by specification the authority of this court, under its inherent powers, to pass upon the fitness of its officers and to discipline them for professional misconduct. In re Bailey, supra.

It is also argued that respondent is not subject to the jurisdiction and disciplinary action of this court because he is now in the status of a retired member of the Arizona State Bar. But the disciplinary procedure embraces all members of the Bar. Sections 32-335 and 32-337, A.C.A.1939. Retired members are members of the Bar within the meaning of the State Bar Act. Section 32-304, A.C.A.1939. They may become active members merely by application and the payment of the required registration fees. Sections 32-308, A.C.A.1939. We therefore hold that the disciplinary jurisdiction of this court extends to retired, as well as to active, members of the Bar of this state.

It is charged, amongst other things, that the respondent, acting both as attorney and petitioner, in his petition to the Superior Court of Maricopa County, in cause No. 12529, for letters of guardianship in the Estate of Betsy Joyce Sullivan, a minor, represented to the court that the estate of said minor was of the approximate value of $ 15,000, whereas the actual value of said estate, as the respondent well knew, was substantially in excess of that amount; that by reason of said misrepresentations the court fixed the guardian's bond at $ 15,000, whereas, if the truth had been made to appear, the court would have required a bond greatly in excess of said sum.

This charge is fully substantiated by the record. The minor's estate consisted of her as yet undistributed share of the estate of Aileen G. Sullivan, deceased, being cause No. 12174 in the same court. The respondent's petition for letters of guardianship was filed September 28, 1937, and it estimates the estate at $ 15,000. Yet only ten days later the respondent, as administrator of said estate of Aileen G. Sullivan, deceased, filed a verified Amended Petition for Order of Sale of Real Estate, listing assets totaling $ 46,567.97, of which $ 42,037.97 was personal property, and approximately two-thirds would eventually be distributed to the minor. The original Inventory and Appraisement in the Aileen G. Sullivan Estate amounted to $ 41,865.83, and the Decree of Distribution, which was entered May 23, 1938, distributed an estate

Page 616

of $ 42,710.13, of which $ 28,473.42 was distributed to the minor. There can be no reasonable doubt that the respondent, when he filed and presented his petition for letters of guardianship well knew that the approximate ...

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